Best doesn't necessarily mean most luxurious. Although some of the restaurants listed here are fancy affairs, others are simple places to get fine, authentic Yucatecan cuisine.
- Gustino (Cancún; tel. 998/848-9600): The JW Marriott's signature restaurant is a gourmand's paradise, with fresh seafood, steaks, and homemade pastas prepared in the open kitchen using classic Italian ingredients. The beautiful dining room makes this one of the city's most romantic places to dine.
- Labná (Ciudad Cancún; tel. 998/892-3056): Steep yourself in traditional Yucatecan culture at this downtown eatery, which showcases Maya cuisine and music. The Labná Special samples four of the region's best dishes, including baked suckling pig with guacamole.
- 100% Natural for Licuados: This casual eatery serves terrific breakfasts and healthy snacks throughout the day. Come for one of the licuados, drinks made from fresh fruit mixed with water or milk. The chain offers a wide selection, including innovative mixtures such as the Cozumel (spinach, pineapple, and orange) and the Caligula (orange, pineapple, beet, celery, parsley, carrot, and lime juices) -- a healthy indulgence. Cancún has several branches; others are in Mérida and Playa del Carmen.
- Casa Rolandi (Isla Mujeres; tel. 998/877-0700): This exquisite restaurant attached to the Villa Rolandi boutique hotel serves outstanding Italian-inspired cuisine. Overlooking the Caribbean, the acclaimed dining room offers wonderful fresh fish, seafood, and pastas.
- Cabaña del Pescador (Cozumel; no phone): If you want an ideally seasoned, succulent lobster dinner, Cabaña del Pescador (Lobster House) is the place. If you want anything else, you're out of luck -- lobster dinner, expertly prepared, is all it serves. When you've achieved perfection, why bother with anything else?
- La Cocay (Cozumel; tel. 987/872-5533): The most original cooking on the island is served in an enchanted dining room and outdoor courtyard. The emphasis is Mediterranean-prepared seafood with Spanish accents. Don't miss the excellent tapas and mixed grilled seafood served with Spanish rice.
- Yaxché (Playa del Carmen; tel. 984/873-2502): Few restaurants in the Riviera Maya explore the region's culinary traditions and use of local ingredients to the degree that this one does. Its menu presents several pleasant surprises and is a welcome relief from the standard offerings of most tourist restaurants.
- La Pigua (Campeche; tel. 981/811-3365): Campeche's regional specialty is seafood, and nowhere else will you find seafood like this. Mexican caviar, coconut-battered shrimp, and chiles stuffed with shark are just a few of the unique specialties. Thinking about La Pigua's pompano in a fine green herb sauce makes me want to start checking flight schedules.
- Jangada (Villahermosa; tel. 993/317-6050): Here you can dine on fresh fish and seafood prepared in a variety of ways, both classic and original. Try the freshwater pejelagarto, found only here, in the state of Tabasco. Pigua, the freshwater lobster, a rare delicacy elsewhere, can be had daily here. But the dish that keeps drawing me back is the shrimp and yuca soup. All the Mexican classics are represented, too, from ceviche to the fish tacos and empanadas. Here you can have it all.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.